Greater Victoria has plenty of ways to get you into the holiday spirit. Here are 10 great reasons to make the trip.
#1. Butchart Gardens
The Magic of Christmas at the Butchart Gardens is truly that…magical. Stroll through the Twelve Days of Christmas display, and be wowed by all the colourful lights. You can sing along to the sounds of the season with Traditional Carollers or listen to the Festive Brass. If that’s not enough, lace up your skates and step onto the outdoor rink under strings of twinkling lights. After all of that, stop in at the Coffee Shop to warm up with a hot chocolate and gingerbread by the fire.
When: December 1 – January 6, every night from 5:00 – 9:00 pm
#2. Festival of Trees
Each year, during the holiday season, the Bay Centre is transformed into a lush forest of hand-decorated trees in support of BC Children’s Hospital. Walk among the creatively decorated trees, and share in the spirit by voting for your favourite. All proceeds support the most urgent health care needs of kids in BC.
Trees are on display at the Bay Centre starting November 15, 2018, through to January 7, 2019.
Are you looking for the magic of an old-fashioned Christmas?
Head to the Merridale farm this holiday for a one-of-a-kind Christmas dining experience. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be transported into a Christmas wonderland. Walk among thousands of twinkling lights (the biggest light display in South Cowichan), decorations, and displays. Then enjoy festive food, holiday shopping, and great entertainment – it will surely be an evening that won’t be forgotten!
Option #1: There is a family option, which serves a three-course brick-oven pizza dinner (served family-style at long tables). This option features the outdoor screening of either “Prep and Landing”, a short family-friendly Christmas movie, or “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”.
Dates: Sundays throughout December (December 2, 9, 16, & 23)
Option #2: Long table Holiday Dinner
Watch a classic Christmas movie under the covered outdoor deck, and then sit down for a farm-to-fork dinner at the long tables.
- November 23 & 24, & 30
- December 1, 7& 8, 14 & 15, 21 & 22
Click on the above link for further details, and to book tickets online.
#4. Cookies and Cocoa and Photo’s with Santa at the Hotel Grand Pacific
Get in the holiday spirit this season at Hotel Grand Pacific. Each day during the holiday season, festive cookies and hot chocolate will be available by donation in the Pacific Dining Room and Lounge. All proceeds support Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.
You’ll also find festive fun in the hotel lobby with a colouring contest for the kids, and a great WestJet raffle for mom and dad!
Dates: December 1 – 27
Plus, on December 1, 8 and 15th, bring the whole family to have your photo taken with Santa!
This is the only spot in downtown Victoria that Santa will be visiting this season, so make sure you pencil these dates into your calendar. As you’re waiting to share your holiday wishes with Saint Nick, get into the holiday spirit by listening to carolers and treating yourself to the hot chocolate and cookies as mentioned above.
Times with Santa: 1 – 4 pm
#5. Ghosts of Christmas Past Walking Tour
Bundle up for a spooky walk along Victoria’s historic streets on the popular 90-minute Ghosts of Christmas Past tour. You’ll hear about a Songhees legend, a Christmas Eve murder, and the “White Lady” of Bastion Square who is said to have made her first appearance at Christmas in 1861.
Dates: Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s, December 1 – 30
Head to Discover the Past to view their online calendar and to book tickets.
#6. Gingerbread Showcase
The Gingerbread Showcase is Habitat Victoria’s premier fundraising event. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, this event is presented by the Victoria Real Estate Board and hosted at the Parkside Hotel & Spa.
The Showcase brings together professional and amateur bakers from Vancouver Island and highlights their creativity while supporting the work of Habitat Victoria. This year’s theme is “There’s no place like home.”
Dates: November 17, 2018 – January 6, 2019, from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Beginning December 1st, experience Christmas in the Castle complete with traditional decorations recalling Victorian-era seasonal splendour.
On your tour, you will see many vintage toys including antique games, wooden blocks and a small cast-iron wood stove under the tree in the drawing-room. Mantles are decorated in the bedrooms, and there are several Christmas trees throughout the home to view. The dining table is set for a formal dinner complete with turkey, ham and a boar’s head on a platter.
As an added bonus and at no additional cost to regular self-guided tour fees, you can enjoy music performed by local musicians at certain times of the day. Families with small children will enjoy music and clowning around at one of three performances by Cam and Daisy.
The performance schedule is available on the castle’s website (click on the link above).
#8. Traditional Sleigh Ride
As part of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours 115th anniversary celebration, and as a nod to its historical roots, the company is giving residents and visitors the first-ever opportunity to enjoy the nostalgic fun and romance of riding in an authentic horse-drawn sleigh during the holiday season.
The one-of-a-kind, elegant single-horse-drawn sleigh provides guests with ultimate luxury. Plush velvet seats and warm winter blankets pair beautifully with the magical sound of sleigh bells and the gentle footfalls of a majestic horse.
Guests are encouraged to bring a hot coffee or cocoa along on their journey while they enjoy a leisurely tour through some of Victoria’s most charming areas, passing seasonally decorated homes.
In the spirit of the holidays, this unique service will be offered for the first time in Victoria with limited hours throughout December 2018.
(It’s pricey, but what an experience!)
For dates and prices, head to the Tourism Victoria website.
#9. Christmas at the Royal BC Museum
Take in the sights and sounds of Christmas long ago at the Royal BC Museum.
There are several exhibits to visit this holiday season.
Visit the wood-cobbled streets lined with festive garlands and see the shops decked in seasonal finery. Also, on certain dates and times, visit with Father Christmas in Old Town, and have your photo taken and share your holiday wishes.
Old Town Christmas Dates: November 11 – January 9, daily from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Father Christmas Dates: Dec 1-2, 7-9, & 14-16, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
And starting, December 17, the Helmcken House will be decked out in an old-fashioned Christmas style.
Step through the doors of the oldest house in British Columbia still on its original site and experience what Christmas would have been like in Victoria over one hundred years ago. Decorations, music and first-hand accounts will take you back to Christmas past.
Helmcken House Dates: December 17 – 31, from 12:00 – 4:00 pm
#10. Shop along the Cobbled Streets
There’s something extra special about strolling along cobbled streets, especially when they are seasonally decorated. You’ll find plenty of unique boutique shops in downtown Victoria (and as an added bonus they will most likely be far less busy than any mall). While shopping at your leisure, make sure to take in the sights surrounding you. The city will be decked out in festive displays and pretty lights. (The Parliament building alone offers a great photo-op).
And when you are famished or thirsty, head into one of the many restaurants, pubs or bars for some festive delights.
If you are hoping to get to some markets while in the area, check out this 2018 Holiday Market Guide, brought to you by Tourism Victoria.
Which holiday activities are your favourite in the Greater Victoria area? Let us know in the comments below.